It Takes a Community…and Community Members
It’s been a long time since CAMP Rehoboth had to choose an Executive Director (ED). Indeed, for nearly all of its 30-year history, CAMP Rehoboth benefited from the vision and leadership of co-founder Steve Elkins. After Steve’s death in March 2018, the CAMP Rehoboth Board of Directors took steps to ensure the successful operation of the organization in the months that immediately followed. It also decided to take the time to complete a critical analysis of CAMP Rehoboth’s infrastructure and programs, to prioritize activities for the next several years, and then to conduct a search for a new ED with the skills and experience to help CAMP Rehoboth achieve those goals.
That search began in earnest in early 2019, when two committees were established. The Search Committee would identify and recruit the best possible candidate for the position. The Transition Committee would focus on infrastructure and the onboarding of the chosen candidate, with a goal of helping him or her be as successful as possible.
All of this work was envisioned as a balanced collaboration between current Board members and representatives from the community. Great effort was taken to consider community members who had been involved with CAMP Rehoboth in different times of its history. Some people had been active with CAMP Rehoboth for a long time, some a long time ago, and some more recently. Diversity was also sought in terms of gender identity and race. In the end, 12 people were selected, with each of the two teams having three board members and three community members.
It has been a learning curve for ALL the members of the teams, but perhaps more so for the community members. Here are some of the “a-ha!” moments they have experienced:
Wesley Combs: “Board member Tara Sheldon serves on the search committee with me, and I learned about the challenges transgender students face in the Sussex County School system. While the state of Delaware passed a law protecting LGBTQ citizens from discrimination, it does not apply to the curriculum presented in state schools. This is why CAMP Rehoboth is needed to ensure that local schools provide safe and welcoming classrooms for all students regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. Not only is their respect and dignity at stake but also their ability to receive an education without fear of rejection or violence because they are LGBTQ.”
Joyce Felton: “The search for a new ED for our beloved CAMP Rehoboth is turning out to be different than I expected. Bonding with the other members of the search team, laughing hysterically, supporting one another, putting our primary purpose first, and checking egos at the door for the greater good has been amazing. We are galvanizing our energies to honor the legacy of CAMP Rehoboth and to create necessary momentum and change. The process has renewed my strong belief in the organization and the deep love and commitment I have always had for CAMP Rehoboth. All of this seems to have blossomed in these intense, long hours of the search.”
Lois Powell: “What a privilege it is to be working on such an important task. This is history in the making. I was also blown away by learning about the birth of CAMP Rehoboth before its brick and mortar days. CAMP Rehoboth is rich with dedicated staff, board members, volunteers, and members at large who share their talents, expertise, enthusiasm, and passion for the betterment of the community in general and the LGBTQ community in particular.”
Beth Cohen: “Almost a decade ago, I was asked to be part of a new CAMP Rehoboth venture, the Development Advisory Board (DAB). Our task—design a plan to raise money in the short term and for the long term. The DAB proposed the creation of a membership program. That program did two things: it raised more than $50,000 immediately and it provided a way for people to help sustain the organization. When it started, the membership program had about 250 initial supporters. Today, there are more than 1,000 individuals and couples involved. So proud to have been on the ground floor of this program and so grateful to see that so many folks want to support this organization which is so important for our community.”
Linda Gregory: “I’m pretty new to the inside workings of CAMP Rehoboth. I’ve always read Letters but there’s so much more! CAMP Rehoboth is very much a well-oiled machine. There are many components that make up the organization, many of them going on behind the scenes. CAMP Rehoboth has expanded in ways that the general public might not be aware of: programs, outreach, counseling, small groups of all types. Just get the weekly email and you will be amazed! So many people share their time and talents, and everyone is accepted, encouraged, and supported. I kind of knew that already, but to see it in action is awesome!”
These insights are echoed by community member Jon Worthington, as well as Board members Chris Beagle, Leslie Sinclair, Jack Morrison, Mark Purpura, Glen Pruitt, and Tara Sheldon. Leslie probably said it best. “It is a reaffirmation that CAMP Rehoboth is a valued and respected organization, based on the number of high-caliber applicants as well as the community members who are dedicated to this effort. The commitment is amazing!” ▼
Glen Pruitt, a CAMP Rehoboth Board Member, currently does quality assurance work for non-profit organizations and government agencies.